Winter is fast approaching, but there’s no need to feel blue about the colder temperatures and shorter days. After all, the winter months bring holidays, festivities and, most importantly, the ski season !
Whether you’re hitting the slopes for the first time or looking to try somewhere new for a challenge, there are some seriously amazing ski resorts on offer around the world, especially in Europe , the USA and Canada .
However, the sheer amount of choice can be somewhat overwhelming, especially as most offer breathtaking backdrops, a wide array of pistes and of course, exceptional après–ski.
To help you narrow down your options, we’ve revealed our top picks of the world’s best ski resorts, including the best time to go and how to get there for cheap…
1. Meribel, France
Located in the French Alps’ Tarentaise Valley, Meribel offers a touch of extra glamour thanks to its luxury hotels, upmarket shops and chic après–ski hotspots.
With over 600km of pistes the resort caters to everyone from beginners to skiing experts, while the weather promises plenty of sunshine, and great snow conditions.
Oh, and if you want to take in the seriously spectacular views, then head to Mont Du Vallon at the top, which sits at a height of 2,952m overlooking the breathtaking landscape.
Ski pass price: Approx €300 (£273) for an adult 6-day pass.
Best time to go: If you want to avoid the crowds, then January is a safe bet. The pistes are relatively quiet as most people are back at work or school, but the weather is still cold and makes for excellent snow conditions.
Cheap flights: Chambéry is the closest airport and you can find cheap flights from £77 on Skyscanner , but flights aren’t particularly regular. However nearby Grenoble, approx two hours away, has plenty more routes on offer – and you can get cheap seats from £24.49 on easyJet .
2. Cervinia, Italy
Nestled in the Valle d’Aosta in northwest Italy, this resort is renowned for its beautiful snow-capped mountains, breathtaking views of the Matterhorn, vibrant nightlife and wide array of hotels and restaurants catering to every budget.
The pistes tend to be more suited to beginner and intermediate skiiers, but the resort has plenty of slopes connecting it to nearby Swiss resort Zermatt that’s ideal for those after a bit more of a challenge.
Ski pass price: Approx €204 (£186) for an adult 6-day pass.
Best time to go: The best season in Cervinia tends to be from the end of December through to the beginning of April – and the snow is so good you can sometimes even enjoy morning skiing in the summer months too!
Cheap flights: The nearest airport is Turin Caselle, and you can find return flights from as little as £48 with Cheapflights.co.uk .
3. Revelstoke, Canada
While Revelstoke does offer pistes for beginners, the resort tends to be tailored more to intermediate and advanced skiiers thanks to the wide array of terrain and steep slopes on offer.
During the peak season you can expect deep powder snow that offers ideal conditions for an impressive array of winter sports, while the spring brings a whole new terrain with glaciers and alpine bowls that make for a showstopping backdrop.
If you’re after something particularly special, then it’s worth taking one of the Heli skiing trips up to the Selkirk and Monashee mountains – expect spectacular views and an experience unlike any other.
Ski pass price: Approx $569 (£355) for an adult 6-day pass.
Best time to go: December to February tends to be the best time if you’re after deep powder snow.
Cheap flights: Calgary and Vancouver are your best bets if you’re travelling from the UK, as they’re the closest international airports to Revelstoke which you can easily reach from the UK. For example, Expedia has return flights to Calgary from £301 , while Cheapflights.co.uk has returns to Vancouver available from £217 .
4. Courchevel, France
Part of the Three Valleys, Courchevel offers over 600km of pistes and 162 lifts, so there’s something for everyone from beginners to advanced skiiers.
However it’s particularly great for first-timers, if only because of the abundance of green pistes (the easiest) and ski schools to get you up and running.
It’s not just on the slopes where Courchevel has a wide range of holiday options. The resort is actually made up of a whole host of small villages – so you could be unwinding in the peaceful and charming Le Praz, or splurging on a luxury chalet in the glamorous Courchevel 1850.
Ski pass price: Approx €256.00 (£233) for an adult 6-day pass.
Best time to go: From December to March the snow conditions tend to be great – although it’s worth noting that the resort can be extremely busy during February as the French school holidays take place. For quieter pistes it’s worth visiting in January.
Cheap flights: The nearest main airports are Chambery and Grenoble. easyJet has flights to Grenoble from £24.49 , including UK airport departures such as Liverpool, Birmingham, London and Bristol. Meanwhile, you can find returns to Chambery from £64 on Skyscanner .
5. Verbier, Switzerland
Thanks to its breathtaking landscape, luxury accommodation and impeccable ski conditions, Verbier has always been a hit with European royals – Prince Andrew even owns a chalet in the Swiss mountains.
Hailed as the main resort of The Four Valleys, Verbier has over 400km of runs, not to mention when you head to the top of the slopes you can get some seriously amazing views of Mont Fort, or even the Matterhorn.
Oh, and if it’s off-piste skiing you’re after, then this is sure to be the place for you – expect everything from scenic runs to rougher terrain if you’re up for a challenge.
Ski pass price: Approx 340CHP (£271) for an adult 6-day pass.
Best time to go: Verbier’s ski season is best from the end of November until early May – but January through to March tend to offer some of the best snow conditions.
Cheap flights: Jet2.com offers £25 flights each way to nearby airport Geneva (1hr 50 minute transfer) including UK departures from Birmingham, London Stansted, Manchester and Edinburgh.
6. Lech, Austria
Head to Lech and you can expect traditional alpine charm, cosy resorts and world-class skiing.
There’s everything from off-piste skiing to beginner schools, but the runs tend to be ideal for the more intermediate of skiiers.
Then of course there’s the stunning landscape from picturesque rivers to snow-capped mountains, as well as charming buildings from domed churches to bustling markets.
It’s no surprise that the resort was a firm favourite for Princess Diana , who even brought Prince William and Prince Harry for fun-filled winter adventures here.
Ski pass price: Approx €275 (£250) for an adult 6-day pass.
Best time to go: The ski season is open from December until April, but like most resorts it’s really January-March where you can make the most of the snow.
Cheap flights: You can easily reach Lech from Zurich – and easyJet has flights to the Swiss city from £26.49 with London Luton or London Gatwick departures. Alternatively, you can fly to nearby airport Friedrichshafen – Expedia offers returns with British Airways from £141 .
7. Bansko, Bulgaria
Bulgaria’s premier ski resort has everything you need for a fun-filled, budget-friendly ski holiday.
Not only can you bag some brilliant accommodation for bargain prices, but even the cost of eating out or making the most of the nightlife is relatively low.
As for the skiing itself, expect beautiful scenery, plenty of runs for everyone from beginners to the more advanced, and fast lifts to the mountains so you can make the most of your time out there.
Ski pass price: Approx 238BGN (£110) for an adult 6-day pass.
Best time to go: The snow season in Bansko typically lasts from December to April, on the northern slopes of the mountain.
Cheap flights: The nearest airports are Sofia (2 hours, 20 minute transfer) or Thessaloniki (3-hour transfer). British Airways offers direct flights to both – and you can find flights from £114.
8. Vail, Colorado
One of the largest ski resorts in the world, Vail boasts more than 5,200 acres of ski and snowboard terrain.
What’s particularly great is that it also caters to a wide variety of budgets, whether you’re looking to go all out in a luxury lodge, or want to save the pennies in self-catered chalets.
Simply choose between the resort’s three villages: Lionshead, Vail Village, or Golden Peak.
Oh, and then of course there’s the incredible après ski in the valley’s bustling restaurants and bars.
Ski pass price: Approx $768 (£480) for an adult 6-day pass.
Best time to go: Vail’s ski season tends to run from December through to March.
Cheap flights: The nearest airport to Vail is the Eagle County Airport – Skyscanner has flights there from £496 . However Denver (2 hours away) can work out to be more budget-friendly – you can find returns from £345 on Cheapflights.co.uk .
9. Zermatt, Switzerland
With unparalleled views of the Matterhorn and 350km of pistes that also take you into the neighbouring Italian resort of Cervinia, it’s no surprise that Zermatt is a firm favourite with those hoping to hit the slopes.
However it’s worth noting that the resort can be quite expensive, mainly because of its lift pass prices – but it’s not impossible to find accommodation and dining to suit more modest budgets.
For those who are after something alternative to the standard skiing experience, Zermatt has plenty on offer too – think helicopter sightseeing tours including the Matterhorn, or even Heli Skiing for the more daring.
Ski pass price: Approx 380CHP (£302) for an adult 6-day pass. Approx 434CHP (£345) if you also want access to neighbouring Cervinia, Italy.
Best time to go: The ski season is best from late November until the end of April.
Cheap flights: The nearest airport is Sion but if you’re on a budget then your best bet is to fly to Geneva, just under three hours away. Expedia has return flights from as little as £59.60 .
10. Cortina, Italy
Tucked away in the picturesque Dolomites, Cortina is often hailed as one of the world’s prettiest resorts – and no wonder, with its rustic chalets, snow-capped mountains or pristine slopes.
Host to the 1956 Olympics, it offers up some seriously brilliant skiing catering to all levels and a wide array of different winter sports.
But what really sets Cortina apart is the fashion: expect to see some very eye-catching ski ensembles, and if you’re feeling inspired, you can no doubt get the look from one of the resort’s luxurious shops.
Ski pass price: Approx €224 (£203) for an adult 6-day pass.
Best time to go: The ski season runs from December through to April, but it’s really until March that you’re likely to get the best snow conditions.
Cheap flights: The nearest airport is Treviso, 2 hour transfer, and Lastminute.com has direct flights from just £58 . Alternatively, Venice airport is just an extra 15 minutes of transfer to Treviso – easyJet has flights from £24.49 .
By JULIE DELAHAYE